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In a few paragraphs, I’ll get to the promised interview, but first a few words of my own. (If you’re short on time, scroll to the interview box).

Every year, I greet Earth Day with mixed feelings because the first one came at a time of tremendous upheaval in another realm.

Although that first Earth Day in 1970 – which Denis Hayes coordinated – focused needed attention on the world's environmental troubles, it was also a diversion. Just a week after Earth Day, on April 29, the U.S. sent troops into Cambodia and, within three weeks, six students had been killed during protests at Kent State and Jackson State universities. Then, too, while millions joined in Earth Day activities, the event was peppered with corporate sponsors, many of whom were more interested in making a public relations coup than anything substantively ecological.

Indeed, some corporate participants took a downright hostile tone when it was pointed out that something engaged in by them might be environmentally destructive.

Nonetheless, for a time, in part because Richard Nixon needed something positive to balance his administration's disastrous continuation of the war in Southeast Asia and because he was pressured by Democrats like Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson and members of his own party, quite a number of successful environmental initiatives were undertaken, including the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and legislation on clean water and clean air.

Subsequent Earth Days drew fewer and fewer participants, but, no matter, because for years the U.S. led the world in aggressively tackling environmental challenges.

Along came Ronald Reagan, a man whose twisted views of something as obvious as old growth forest preservation left environmentalists of all stripes aghast: "A tree is a tree, how many more do you need to look at?" Although expressed less moronically, he delivered similar views (and policies) regarding public lands, pollution, the ozone hole, organic farming, global warming and advocates of renewable power sources and conservation, us laughable morons who wanted everyone to "freeze to death in the dark."

Naturally, Reagan wasn't just talking for himself. Difficulties in foreign policy, a Democratic congressional majority and the implosion of Anne Gorsuch Burford's wild reign at the EPA and Jim Watt's at the Department of Interior weakened the Gipper's ability to do the bidding of the eco-plunderers. Nonetheless, Executive Order 12291 did enough damage on its own. Issued in 1981, it required a cost-benefit analysis of all government rules (including environmental) and a requirement that only least-cost regulations could be adopted even if other proposals would provide greater benefits. About the only positive thing Reagan did for the environment was add millions of acres to the nation's protected Wilderness. That, and the fact he reinvigorated environmentalism by being so much against it.

When the 20th anniversary of Earth Day came around – with Denis Hayes again the coordinator – it gave environmental advocates a public opportunity to breathe new life into their efforts. For the first time in years, events were well-attended and garnered some decent attention from the megamedia.

In fact, within a few months of Earth Day 1990, hundreds of newspapers had reassigned reporters to the eco-beat, and dozens of them started whole sections devoted to environmental issues. Environmental organizations noted a spurt in financial contributions and memberships. I persuaded my bosses at the Los Angeles Times to initiate a weekly package of syndicated environmental articles that I subsequently edited. For a time the package was quite successful.

But media interest didn't last long. The newspaper reporters were reassigned to covering what color 9th graders think is coolest. Several of the flashy new eco-magazines that started up after Earth Day struggled and collapsed. And despite high hopes – and better appointments – Clinton's environmental record turned out to be (to be charitable) mediocre. Although he kept Congress from gouging deeper into EPA funding, across a wide range of environmental issues, especially energy, he was Mr. Nowhere Man. But at least you never caught him saying "a tree is a tree." And after 87 months of Mister Bush in office, Clinton looks dark green.

I'd list the terrible things Bush has done or plans to do when it comes to the environment, but this Diary would run until Earth Day 50. Whether it's forest policy, mining policy, energy policy, public lands policy, climate policy, pollution policy or transportation policy, the administration can be counted on to do the wrong thing.

Denis Hayes has spent decades fighting for the environment. In 1978, the Carter Administration appointed him head of the Solar Energy Research Institute, which is where I met him when I was hired at the Solar Law Reporter. When the Reagan Administration gutted SERI’s budget in 1981, Hayes was fired, as were hundreds of other employees, including me.

Since then, he’s done prodigious eco-work. He was named a Time magazine hero of the planet in 1999, shortly before he coordinated Earth Day 2000, the biggest Earth Day yet. He is now president of the Bullitt Foundation in Seattle. The foundation seeks to promote a model of sustainable development in the Pacific Northwest. Its grants are focused on energy and climate change, transportation, sustainable agriculture, ecosystem protection, green chemistry, and other arenas to help, as Hayes puts it "shape Cascadia into, if you will, a comfortable, progressive, innovative version of ecotopia."

Monday, I asked Hayes five questions:

MB: If you could wave your magic green wand and change one thing the environmental movement has done - or not done - in the past four decades, what would that be?

HAYES:  First, before answering this one, I want to make clear that I think environmentalism is not near 'death,' or even retirement, and I'm  very definitely not part of the camp that wants to "kill" it.  

The environmental movement has produced more widespread, fundamental, structural improvement in America than any other movement in history.  The only thing that comes close is the New Deal -- and the environmental movement didn't have a hugely popular, 4-term President pushing our agenda.  We caused the creation of an EPA and a NOAA;  passed a raft of hard-hitting legislation that regulated everything from air and water pollution to endangered species to occupational health to marine mammal protection to biomimickring forestry to banning DDT, lead, ozone depleting chemicals, and a variety of long-lasting toxins;  and promulgated a set of values that has guided tens of millions of people in their choice of house, car, diet, vacations, job selection, and even the number of children they choose to have.  

Students now study environmental engineering, environmental law, environmental toxicology, environmental forestry, environmental economics, green chemistry, sustainable business, etc. -- and have jobs waiting for them when they complete their educations.

Now, to answer your question: If I were starting over, I would have tried harder to instill from the very beginning a concern for economic justice as a bedrock value of the movement, and I would have sought a way to organize the tens of thousands of local groups across the nation into a coherent whole that functioned organically -- not just on Earth Day, but around the calendar.  Some groups, most notably the Sierra Club, have lots of local chapters, but as a movement we've done too little to have a vibrant presence in all communities.  

In the last few decades, the gap between the haves and the have-nots has grown significantly.  The core strength of the environmental movement is college educated, middle class "haves" (or at least "quasi-haves.')  But the movement is underrepresented in communities of color and disadvantaged communities in general.  This has many unfortunate implications including (1) many current environmental issues, notably global warming, will have huge economic costs, and the poor need to be represented at the table when those costs are allocated; 2)  most environmental problems impose their heaviest burdens on the very poor; and, 3) these populations are growing faster than other segments of society, so in a democracy they are becoming increasingly powerful.

Earth Day, here and around the world, is heavily focused on growing and diversifying the environmental movement.  If you review the march across the podium at the big Earth Day event at the Mall in Washington, D.C., last Sunday, you will see that a many of the speakers and most of the celebrities were people of color, and the audience was more than half non-white. We are trying!

MB: If, for three minutes, you had the undivided attention of the man or woman who takes the oath of office January 20, 2009, what single piece of advice would you give him or her regarding environmental matters?

HAYES: Each President has six months to accomplish something. The challenge is to get something significant done and use that success to build momentum, rather than round onto the shoals the way the Clinton Health Care initiative did in 1993 -- leading directly to the loss of control of both houses of Congress in 1994. The towering environmental issue of our time is climate change. You should, in an utterly transparent effort, assign someone you trust completely to organize a task force to swiftly design -- with transparent public input -- a climate policy that will catapult America from global laggard to global leader in this vital field, within 30 days of taking office. The world needs to be reassured that America is back in the game.  

The core element should be an upstream cap and auction program -- regulating carbon not at the millions of places where it is burned but at the 2,000 places where it enters the economy -- oil fields, mine mouths, pipelines from Canada and Mexico, ports.  The number of carbon permits auctioned off should decrease by 3 percent per year, and they should not be "off-settable" by any action that does not stabilize carbon for geological time periods (i.e., planting a tree does not let you burn coal.) The (eventually very large) proceeds from the auction should be allocated in portions in ways that accelerate the transition to a super-efficient new energy economy powered by renewable energy sources. The long-term energy future will be dominated by direct solar electricity and base-load geothermal.    

MB Three-and-a-half years ago Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus, co-founders of the Apollo Alliance, wrote "The Death of Environmentalism: Global Warming Politics in a Post-Environmental World," first an essay and then a book that have sparked an on-going debate about the approach the environmental advocacy groups have chosen. Greatly condensed, their argument posits that the environmentalists need to abandon its old and largely ineffective tactical approach of supporting technical fixes and adopt "vision" and "values" that lead to a whole new definition of "environmentalism" as including matters as far-flung as tax policy, pensions, and health care in order to enlist new allies, such as the United Auto Workers and the U.S. auto industry. Do you agree with their views?

HAYES: I agree with their description of the problem – and indeed, have been making much the same critique for many years. But their prescription is (with all due respect, and I really like these guys) nonsense. They want to shut down all existing environmental groups in order to build a powerful new progressive movement. I want to incorporate most existing environmental groups into a broad progressive movement where they would represent environmental issues even as collegial groups represent the direct interests of labor, the poor, education, universal health care, venture capital, and all the other building blocks of the coalition. The wisdom (and the likelihood) of getting an environmental group with hundreds of employees, hundreds of thousands of members, and tens of millions of dollars of annual income to just shut up shop is roughly the same as the likelihood of the United Auto Workers just shutting up shop.  

Picking up the UAW pension obligations in return for UAW support for clean vehicles might or might not make sense.  I'm skeptical. Under Walter Reuther, the UAW supported the Clean Air Act and much other progressive legislation. In recent decades, the union has abandoned many of its progressive values. I'd be more inclined to campaign to take care of the health care of ALL Americans with a single payer universal health care system that simply includes the UAW along with everyone else, and get government mandates and incentives to move to a vehicle fleet of plug-in hybrids and Zero Emission Vehicles.  

MB: Nuclear power is being widely touted by many – including some in the environmental movement who previously opposed it – as at least a transitional solution to global warming? Where do you stand on this issue?

HAYES: By its very nature, nuclear power cannot be a "transitional" technology. Once a country has fissile materials, enriching capacity, reactors, reprocessing, and a skilled work force, the horse is out of the barn. And since any atom that can be split to produce commercial power can also be split to produce a bomb, the long-term consequences are dire.  

Stepping back for a moment, in our globalized economy, the United States cannot expect to turn to a technology as an essential element of our energy future that we are not willing to share with the rest of the world. And the rest of the world is no more enthusiastic about building a energy system in which all their fuel comes from the U.S. and all their spent fuel (i.e., inter alia, plutonium to be reprocessed as fuel for the next generation of reactors, or bombs) is returned to the U.S. They will want to control the whole fuel cycle. And it is worth bearing in mind that the uranium enrichment in Iran which has us so upset is an absolutely essential ingredient if Iran is to develop a commercial nuclear fuel cycle.  

Beyond the threat of, say, bombs in shipping containers, consider that India and Pakistan already have a sufficient stockpile of nuclear bombs that a regional war between them might produce global nuclear winter. If somehow Israel were pulled into that war, the number of bombs would almost certainly induce a catastrophic global result.  

Over the next quarter century, I am frankly more worried about nuclear proliferation than I am about climate change.  Fortunately, the economic cost of nuclear power is sufficiently high that it will not be built anywhere without enormous government subsidies. So if we can simply make the case that this 50-year-old technology no longer deserves government subsidies – including the federal government providing free insurance against catastrophic outcomes – it will be dead as a doornail.  

MB: Many people – even progressives – argue that there is nothing they can personally do except around the fringes to help the environment, that only government policy working for the common good can be effective. Do you agree or not?

HAYES: True solutions require engagement by everyone, including industries and libertarians, and that only happens when the law demands it. So, of course I support very strong legislation. However, before such legislation makes smart behavior mandatory, those of us who care about global warming should be reducing our carbon footprints. There are dozens of reasons why this is true. They include a) I have much more credibility arguing for tough CAFE standards if I have been driving a Prius for seven years (as I have) than if I've been driving an SUV; b) every bit of carbon that goes into the atmosphere counts, and we Americans (who have produced the lion's share of the atmospheric CO2 over the last 100 years) have a special responsibility to reduce our emissions – individually and collectively; and c) some of this stuff requires learning how to do things before it becomes a tidal wave.  

For example, we need to learn how to recycle the mercury in compact fluorescent light bulbs and the cadmium in some of the thin film photovoltaic cells before they arrive in a tidal way -- and some early adopters were necessary to focus attention in issues needing solutions.  

The Solar Law Reporter focused attention on the need to envelope zoning to protect access for sunlight back when you were there – but it isn't until people begin putting up expensive collectors, only to have someone build a big building to the south, that government  realizes there is a real problem needing addressing. As one who seeks photovoltaic cells on the roofs and southern walls of ALL buildings, this is a big issue to solve. PV sales are roughly doubling every two years, and they will run into a brick wall (no pun intended) without such action, and the early adopters are now starting to demand it.  

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Mon Apr 21, 2008 at 09:08 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Say Yes to Renewable forms of energy! (19+ / 0-)

    (And ethanol fuel does not count, as it is takes more energy to produce it than it produces.)

    -4.75, -5.33 Cheney 10/05/04: "I have not suggested there is a connection between Iraq and 9/11."

    by sunbro on Mon Apr 21, 2008 at 09:13:32 PM PDT

  •  everyday should be earth day (18+ / 0-)

    kind of sad that people seem to need so much convincing when it comes to not screwing up the only home we've got.

    IGTNT: Remembering our fallen soldiers

    by a girl in MI on Mon Apr 21, 2008 at 09:14:38 PM PDT

  •  I like that (13+ / 0-)

    I'm going to promote environmentalism as the most successful justice movement of late.

    One cannot reduce terror by holding over the world the threat of what it most fears. -Wendell Berry

    by carpenterale on Mon Apr 21, 2008 at 09:16:03 PM PDT

  •  Any economic activity (16+ / 0-)

    that creates more than its monetary value in environmental degradation or other externalities has to become a losing proposition.  I don't know whether Hayes's cap-and-trade scheme will work, but at least it points out this principle.

    And if PV solar is imperfect, it must beat burning coal.  And what about passive solar (using the sun to heat water on the roof, which in turn heats the house)?

  •  Anderson Cooper had a special tonight (13+ / 0-)

    on endangered species.  It wasn't half bad.

    Only 10% of Madagascar's forests remain.  People there burn them down to make charcoal.  Species perish.

    What a snapshot of human short term planning.

    Thanks MB for the great interview and work.

  •  In honor of earth day (13+ / 0-)

    I would like to send special thoughts to our friends, the Royal Bengal Tigers

    Thank for this diary, MB.

    1-20-09 The Darkness Ends "Where cruelty exists, law does not." ~ Alberto Mora

    by noweasels on Mon Apr 21, 2008 at 09:20:15 PM PDT

  •  Meteor Blades... (11+ / 0-)

    what are your thoughts on We Can Solve It... this new bi-partisan group urging action on climate change?

    I've been seeing a couple of their commercials on TV lately... one with Pelosi and Gingrich, and another with Sharpton and Robertson.

    Do you think the Republicans' "concern" is genuine, or just a cynical attempt to trick voters into thinking they care about the issue?

  •  Amen to this. (18+ / 0-)

    Each President has six months to accomplish something.  The challenge is to get something significant done and use that success to build momentum, rather than round onto the shoals the way the Clinton Health Care initiative did in 1993 -- leading directly to the loss of control of both houses of Congress in 1994.  The towering environmental issue of our time is climate change. You should, in an utterly transparent effort, assign someone you trust completely to organize a task force to swiftly design -- with transparent public input -- a climate policy that will catapult America from global laggard to global leader in this vital field. within 30 days of taking office.  The world needs to be reassured that America is back in the game.  

    Yes, indeed.

    1-20-09 The Darkness Ends "Where cruelty exists, law does not." ~ Alberto Mora

    by noweasels on Mon Apr 21, 2008 at 09:23:33 PM PDT

  •  Earth Day Influence Carries On (8+ / 0-)

    For those who may still have lingering doubts about the event, a quick share of a line in an email from a friend here in China. She was apologizing for not returning my call before I left her hometown of Shanghai.

    I volunteered to help have a report about the livestock impact on enviorment translated and berried my head into the translation for 2 weeks. BTW, today is earth day and pls take veg diet for whole day so how much CO2 reduced by keeping veg diet globally can be tested.

    Incidentally, she was one of the "aggressive", "militant", "nationalist" Chinese students who questioned President Clinton when he delivered his speech at Peking University in 1998.

  •  Thank you, Denis Hayes (13+ / 0-)

    For all of its shortcomings, Earth Day is the one time America pays some attention to the environment.

    And thanks for the focus on economic and environmental justice.  We do have an individual and collective debt to pay:

    we Americans (who have produced the lion's share of the atmospheric CO2 over the last 100 years) have a special responsibility to reduce our emissions – individually and collectively..

  •  Nice interview! And thank you for (13+ / 0-)

    putting the Reagan legacy into a better perspective.

    In every issue, he made an art form of creating the lowest possible expectations of governmental competence, and then proceeding to fulfill those expectations beyond anyone's wildest dreams.

    The earth still suffers, in many ways.

    The law is slacked and judgment doth never go forth: the wicked compass about the righteous and wrong judgment proceedeth - Habakkuk 1:4

    by vox humana on Mon Apr 21, 2008 at 09:26:04 PM PDT

  •  Gov. Granholm and State House Dem. (10+ / 0-)

    Terry Brown were on the news tonight in MI talking about windfarms in the Thumb and having factories make components for more windmills since we need jobs so much.

    It sounded good...I am hoping...

    Join us at Bookflurries: Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

    by cfk on Mon Apr 21, 2008 at 09:28:17 PM PDT

  •  I have to disagree with the premise (9+ / 0-)

    that engagement only happens when the law demands it.

    A good example is tobacco. The rates of smoking are dropping, in part because people were made aware of the hazards.

    I'm not saying it's the only methodology to forge ahead, but there is too little being done to inform the public, and more importantly to provide motivational support to change behavior patterns. Leaders should be mentioning at every turn all aspects of lessening our impact on the world environment.

    We could TOMORROW cut our carbon output and use of fossil fuels by a measurable percentage, if we only chose to do so. It could be done with a minimum of pain and inconvenience, by simply taking a few extra minutes in our commutes by car and slow down, take it easy on the accelerator.

    Or, use mass transit instead. Or walk. Or simply reduce the amount of overall driving by planning more carefully.

    I have mentioned before that I drive 50 - 55 MPH unless it's an emergency. I get 40 MPG in my Honda Civic which has 215,000 miles on it. I get passed by impatient people driving huge vehicles, perhaps in a rush for legitimate reasons in some cases, but I'd wager fully 75% of them could be taking it easier.

    That's a 15 to 20% increase in MPG, and an equivalent reduction in carbon and pollution emissions.

    Technology is part of the solution; but our behavior is a major part of this, and it's where the concentration of effort should be, in my opinion, right now to take instant effect.    

    "Change doesn't happen from the top down,
    it happens from the bottom up." Barack Obama

    by shpilk on Mon Apr 21, 2008 at 09:28:34 PM PDT

    •  When we went to help out with grandbabies (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ed in Montana, shpilk, MT Spaces, GreyHawk

      a couple of weeks ago...three hours each way, mostly freeway...only one truck passed us and we were going 65.  

      That was a big change.

      Join us at Bookflurries: Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

      by cfk on Mon Apr 21, 2008 at 09:30:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You are right about this, but there are (7+ / 0-)

      success stories.

      I see the numbers of recycled products in stores, the recent "craze" for cloth bags and the increase in usage of recycling programs as examples of citizen-led changes in behavior. Especially in the case of the first two examples, there was very little incentive provided from established companies or government agencies. Indeed, the increased initial expense of each would seem to fly in the face of any economic models I have heard of.

      If we just keep spreading the word (as you just did, of course), it does get out there. Slowly.

      The law is slacked and judgment doth never go forth: the wicked compass about the righteous and wrong judgment proceedeth - Habakkuk 1:4

      by vox humana on Mon Apr 21, 2008 at 09:32:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It is working. I went food shopping and forgot (8+ / 0-)

        to bring the cloth bags in with me, the other day! I was a bit pissed off at myself for forgetting.

        But the rate of change is so so small & it's so slow I don't know.

        We reduced our electricity bill by more than a thrid by switching to all CFLs and being careful about all non-essential uses, but there's still more we can do.

        "Change doesn't happen from the top down,
        it happens from the bottom up." Barack Obama

        by shpilk on Mon Apr 21, 2008 at 09:36:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Absolutely! Don't get me wrong... I know. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          GreyHawk, geodemographics

          It's just really important to acknowledge people power when it effects change, no matter how small. And not to let defeats get in the way of overall change. Slow at first, but can it gather momentum? I really believe it can... and not in as long a time as some think.

          A halt or reversal in any area in this instance is progress! I am a firm believer in Zeitgeist, but I also think it can be guided, through education and example!

          The law is slacked and judgment doth never go forth: the wicked compass about the righteous and wrong judgment proceedeth - Habakkuk 1:4

          by vox humana on Mon Apr 21, 2008 at 09:56:32 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I've forgotten mine on occasion as well. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          GreyHawk, geodemographics

          To help prevent that as soon as I empty them upon returning from the grocery, I hang them on a hook I've attached to the door of my apartment. I simply can't avoid seeing them whenever I exit.

          "If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich." JFK - January 20, 1961

          by rontun on Mon Apr 21, 2008 at 10:26:39 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I think you're misreading it a bit (5+ / 0-)

      What Mr. Hayes wrote was:

      True solutions require engagement by everyone, including industries and libertarians, and that only happens when the law demands it.

      He's not saying engagement only happens when the law demands it. He's saying engagement by everyone happens only when the law demands it. Those are very different statements.

      I'm confident that he would agree with your point that education is critical. He helped to create one of the earliest broad educational tools in the movement, after all. I can speak from personal experience that he's a strong advocate of the need for action at an individual level.

  •  Mother Nature is SMILING at Mr. Hayes (8+ / 0-)

     title=
    From the Trail of the Cedars in Glacier National Park
    Redigitized image by ME from a posed photo by LS.

    Why do people insist on following those damn chickens across that bloody road?

    by MT Spaces on Mon Apr 21, 2008 at 09:29:53 PM PDT

  •  wow. now THOSE were 5 *great* questions! (10+ / 0-)

    (and answers!)

    Good interviewing is such a neglected art / skill!  Thanks, MB, for posting that and for putting some careful thought and time into it first.

    Sigh.... if only....  ah, nevermind.

    Social advance depends as much upon the process through which it is secured as upon the result itself. --Jane Addams

    by shock on Mon Apr 21, 2008 at 09:30:47 PM PDT

  •  Thank you MB for your (8+ / 0-)

    regular diaries about the land. If I can pimp a related diary I just posted, it's a tribute to ecologist Aldo Leopold, who died on this date 60 years ago.

    "One cannot be pessimistic about the West. This is the native land of hope." Wallace Stegner

    by Mother Mags on Mon Apr 21, 2008 at 09:32:20 PM PDT

  •  environmental justice (8+ / 0-)

    it is nice to see this dimension placed at the forefront of an environmental discussion.  The environmental movement has suffered greatly from both the perception and its actual location in the "elite" circles of activism.  

    Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

    by a gilas girl on Mon Apr 21, 2008 at 09:33:57 PM PDT

  •  a good read (9+ / 0-)

    Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things by William McDonough and Michael Braungart.  Mr. McDonough is a renowned architect with a passion for environmental building.  He's currently working with Brad Pitt on the New Orleans project.  

    So much time and so little to do...wait, stop, reverse that.---Willy Wonka

    by bluestateonian on Mon Apr 21, 2008 at 09:36:42 PM PDT

  •  OT, but science-y, Little Green Footballs... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SecondComing, GreyHawk

    is engaged in a battle royale between people who understand science and Intelligent design types.

    http://littlegreenfootballs.com/...

    http://littlegreenfootballs.com/...

    Fun to read.

  •  Thanks, MB (6+ / 0-)

    Great interview.

    "If impeachment is off the table, so is democracy." -teacherken

    by offgrid on Mon Apr 21, 2008 at 09:50:08 PM PDT

  •  sustainable living (8+ / 0-)

    Related to the third question (and not having read the book to which MB refers), I'm curious how others feel about the "sustainable living" framing for these issues (as opposed to "environmentalism").  imo, it's important not to treat the environment as something (politically) separate that is somehow extra, in addition to our normal life issues.  For me, a good analogy is to talk about having a healthy life style in general as opposed to "dieting" and body fat.  This makes it easier to, for example, integrate environmental issues with issues of economic and social justice.  And also encourages a focus on the long-term, etc.

    I think I get Hayes' response, which I take to be that these issues are too important to hope they get covered in blanket policies that don't target the environment specifically, but yet I also believe the only way to truly fix things is to institute systemic changes, top-to-bottom, bottom-to-top in the way we live and work (both individually and organizationally).  I suspect that one problem with the so-called "environmental movement", and the fact that people like Reagan and Bush are able to be so devastating to it in the short term, is that it is treated as a specialized issue -- sometimes a political football -- even by those working within it, such that the "gains" seem to be segregated and specialized, and therefore easy to reverse. (This is not to deny that there have been gains.  Indeed, I was very impressed with the litany of gains with which Hayes started the interview.  For me, the most important and impressive gains among those he listed came at the end... lifestyle changes, attitude changes, career changes.   I'm optimistic about these sorts of changes, far more than regulations or agencies.)

     

    Social advance depends as much upon the process through which it is secured as upon the result itself. --Jane Addams

    by shock on Mon Apr 21, 2008 at 09:54:14 PM PDT

  •  I'll never forget (6+ / 0-)

    my older daughter's first "official Earth Day".  Even though we'd been observing our carbon footprint for years, when her "middle school" made a big deal of it, we, of course jumped in with enthusiasm that could only be surpassed by a sixth grader!  

    After the project ended and she had "educated" us sufficiently, we took a walk--2.3 mi--around the small lake where we live. She started having some difficulty breathing, about half way, (we attributed it to the new spring pollen) and as we progressed we saw smoke billowing and smelled leaves burning. (At this point, I have given her my jacket to cover her nose and mouth.)

    The smoke came from her principal's house--he was the guy who awarded them their t-shirts for participation in Earth Day-- and he was burning huge piles of leaves.

    As we continued past the smoke, we discussed this contradiction, a bit, and then.... more smoke.  It was her assistant principal. The good looking guy, whom they all adored. (The guy who could have gotten them to do anything) She was stunned. These icons of her education and principles had not meant a word they said. We had long talks about this. I sent her a letter, via real mail, apologizing for the actions of lots of adults, and telling her how much we appreciated her efforts and courage, and reminding her that we "needed" her insight to make a difference, in spite of--or even because of--the adults who missed the point. Nevertheless, my child who couldn't breathe felt personally betrayed, and wondered,  with the fervor of a sixth grader, who else was lying to her.

    Now, I'm not trying to cast aspersions on eduators. This child of mine is now 30, and a teacher herself. (a damned good one, too, if I dare brag.) But, as an old teacher myself, what I have observed about education where she was reared, is that education has been held captive in the classroom.  Teachers are reluctant/averse to taking community leadership roles or start community actions that are extensions of what they are teaching children in the classroom. I won't even go into the realm of people teaching one thing, but living another.

    I, for one, would love it if my kid came home (too late now--I'm old) and said, "My teacher is starting an after school project to help battle climate change."  Although I would have clearly jumped on that bandwagon, others who disagree would have the choice to demur.

    The reason I suggest "teachers" is because they have more implicit expertise than I would, regardless of my education, reading, and activism.

    Anyway, two glasses of wine and an old rant will get you this! But, I take hope in the fact that my daughter still remembers her disappointment and sense of betrayal that day. Earth Day and it's relevant issues are huge to her, and she doesn't limit her advocacy to school activities only.

    I know that education varies from county to county, state to state, and region to region. Here, however, where I live, it is woefully represented by folks who don't dare vary from the homogenized curriculum. Sadly, I thought "tenure" was originally established to allow people to do that.

    P.S. If folks want to assail me, that's fine, but I'm getting a sore throat and fever, and I'm being lulled to bed. I'll check back in the morning to see who I need to apologize to.

    •  Wow. What a story. (6+ / 0-)

      I would love to participate in a diary on this topic specifically.  (Maybe after primary season dies down.)

      (by the way, you sound like a great parent!  I wish I could do as well.  The apology letter idea was brilliant.)

      I still vividly remember when my (then) 9 year old son told my (still!) wingnut father while we waited in line at Niagara falls to go underneath the falls that he had heard in school that ocean levels were going to rise and that Venice would be under water in a few years.  My son was trying to make conversation, but my father shut him down and told him that this was baloney.  My son tried to argue that this was what he'd been taught in school, but my father told him it was all lies.  I was so simultaneously stunned, outraged, enraged, you-name-it that I was speechless.  I sputtered and tried to defend my crushed son, but did such a poor job of it that I am still embarassed about it to this day.   I could see the damage done to my son, both in terms of his confidence and trust, right there.  I am still pissed at my dad.

      I had to have several talks with my son about this in the next few months.  I wish I'd thought of the apology letter idea.

      I also would love to see teachers get involved in activism.  We are currently fighting my sons' school system because they are canceling specialized art classes (after a series of other horrendous cutbacks as well) in order to (ostensibly) boost their test scores in literacy and math.   We have a huge protest coming up.  My wife had the idea of having the kids boycott the standardized test itself.  (Needless to say, my grade 5 son is gung ho about this idea.) Anyway, we've been trying to get the teachers from the school to participate -- we know for a fact that most of them agree that this is a stupid policy -- but it is hard (for obvious reasons).  

      Social advance depends as much upon the process through which it is secured as upon the result itself. --Jane Addams

      by shock on Mon Apr 21, 2008 at 10:13:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  So many thoughts... (5+ / 0-)

        so little time. The letter idea was born out of another debacle that my younger daughter experienced, when she reported an incidence of sexual abuse re: her school bus buddy--to her principal. Too long to go into, but needless to say, my daughter did the right thing and was punished for "spreading gossip".

        I taught parenting classes for years, and was at such a loss... desperate to support my daughter (not to mention the young victim), I wrote her a letter, sent it by mail, and years later, along with other letters I'd written by mail, I found them all. Dog-earred, worn, and clearly re-read multiple times. Those postal letters weren't my brilliant cognition... they were the acts of a desperate mother.

        Eventually, it just carried over into all the crazy things they encountered in this inexplicable world. I find that kids don't/can't listen as well... there are too many interferences, and too little down time to absorb the stories, messages, and anecdotes necessary for sane living. So, I took to the post office!

        Best of luck with your protest idea... My experience is that teachers are afraid. Too afraid. I love it that your family is approaching this as a consolidation. Your little guy may learn a whole lot from the experience, especially if you challenge him to come up with viable reasons for dumping the standardized tests... Lord knows, we've got research out the wazoo about how such tests don't measure real learning.

        I like your idea about the collabortive diary. I'll bookmark this and maybe we can co--op at a later date.  Good luck with it all. If he's got you guys as parents, he can't go wrong.

        nan

  •  Silly Primates (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GreyHawk, LokiMom, bfitzinAR

    Procreating way too often.

    As if there was room for an infinate number of cute, cuddly, caterwauling human babies on Planet Earth..

    Democrats are stupid too. I is one.

    I still don't know How to Drive Fast on Drugs While Getting Your Wing-Wang Squeezed and Not Spill Your Drink

    by SecondComing on Mon Apr 21, 2008 at 09:55:11 PM PDT

    •  You are wrong. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GreyHawk

      There is no evidence the Earth is overpopulated with humans.

      None.

      There is great amounts of evidence that small numbers of humans, using resources in a wasteful manner, can cause great damage.

      •  Seven Billion? (0+ / 0-)

        Ten? A Hundred?

        Like any old person, I prefer the Utopia where I was born.

        3 Billion was almost functional, except for the regional wars in Indochina.

        I still don't know How to Drive Fast on Drugs While Getting Your Wing-Wang Squeezed and Not Spill Your Drink

        by SecondComing on Fri Apr 25, 2008 at 08:08:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Earth is a pretty special planet (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ed in Montana, nancelot, GreyHawk

    "Primitive life is very common and intelligent life is fairly rare," he then quickly added: "Some would say it has yet to occur on earth."

    "Watch out if you would meet an alien. You could be infected with a disease with which you have no resistance."

    - Stephen Hawking

    http://news.yahoo.com/...

    "Be yourself; everyone else is already taken." - Oscar Wilde

    by greendem on Mon Apr 21, 2008 at 09:57:04 PM PDT

  •  ...the Earth is where we make our stand. (9+ / 0-)

    Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader", every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

    The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

    Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

    The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

    It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.

    Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot

  •  Thank you for asking the nuclear question! (7+ / 0-)

    For many of us the new found love for nuclear amongst other enviros is baffling. I am very afraid that whoever is in the WH next year already has ties to nuclear lobbyist. They are going to frame it just like the "clean coal" liars are now. We must keep this from happening regardless of who elected.

  •  Wow. Greenwashing started in 1970 (4+ / 0-)

    Well even if the companies didn't get any greener their marketing skills have. To them it's all about the green (dollars).

    "Never have so few taken so much from so many for so long."

    by londubh on Mon Apr 21, 2008 at 10:09:36 PM PDT

  •  America’s consumption orgy has profound im (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GreyHawk

    on the world's poeple in 2108

    on the world's people in 2208

    on the world's people in 2308

    on the world's people in 2408

    "I don't think I should disclose it unless there is some conflict of which I am aware of, and there is not," -Bill on Clinton Library Donors

    by Lefty Coaster on Mon Apr 21, 2008 at 10:18:03 PM PDT

    •  There Is No Meaning Beyond Mid / Late 21st Centry (9+ / 0-)

      There is so much change coming that is so fundamental to the most bedrock meanings of "economy," "society" and "human being," that it's not very rational to be talking about the ways today's actions bear on the 22nd century and beyond.

      I think our consumption has profound effects on this century, no doubt about it. But I think it's only a matter of when during this century we hit various bottlenecks and crises that we wouldn't be able to avoid or postpone till later.

      We're too far down the road already with the makeup of our economy, and we've spent half a century handing too much of government over to the forces most active in worsening the situation.

      When you think 3 centuries ahead, by then we could have world population under 1/4 billion or maybe we'd have found a way to have it many many billions.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Mon Apr 21, 2008 at 10:58:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Meteor Blades -- Shitty Interview (0+ / 0-)

    Meteor Blades, what is your problem?

    Those are not good interview questions.

    They are actually horrible interview questions.

    Did Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopolous write them for you?

  •  WHAT ARE BIGGEST EARTH DAY CONCERNS? (0+ / 0-)
    1. global warming
    1. air pollution
    1. water pollution
    1. coal/oil

    rank 'em up!

  •  Happy Earth Day (7+ / 0-)

    Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Apr 21, 2008 at 10:49:13 PM PDT

  •  "True solutions require engagement by everyone" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BYw, geodemographics, bfitzinAR

    is to me the most significant observation shared by Mr. Hayes.

    I've been encouraged recently by movement among evangelical leaders toward greater protection of our environment. It seems to me that people from all walks of life, no matter their political ideology, can be persuaded that our continued degradation of the earth cannot proceed if life on the planet is to be sustained.

    The first challenge is to arrive at a consensus that something must be done, and that we must all share in the burden, even as we all benefit in the result.

    So many obstacles to environmental progress arise from a perception that some are going to sacrifice while others will not. Thus, again, it is crucial that any costs are borne communally, and any reward apportioned universally.

    "If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich." JFK - January 20, 1961

    by rontun on Mon Apr 21, 2008 at 10:54:22 PM PDT

  •  Environmentalism is grassroots democracy (4+ / 0-)

    It seems to me that one of the breakthrough achievements of Earth Day was that it brought the notion of citizen democracy into clear focus.  Aside from the legislative achievements which soon followed, environmentalism came to mean that ordinary citizens could be responsible for their own ecological welfare.  

    I've just finished a book that captures some of the spirit of the original Earth Day vision called "Building a Green Economy".  It features stories of individuals who have taken environmentalism into their own hands and offers us all some lessons in what personal commitment and ingenuity can achieve.

    If a group of college seniors can achieve this: www.greenvoting.com
    then we have reason to believe in a better future.

  •  thanks for this great interview! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ed in Montana, BYw

    I am going to look up the Bullitt Foundation tomorrow - I live in Seattle, interesting info, thanks!

    What are you doing tomorrow for Earth Day?

    I am planning to carpool to work and back (as usual) and do some cleanup on the lake here, but only after I make about 10 calls for Obama to PA.

    Folks - for Earth Day give the time you have to Obama so we perhaps can get some of this problem worked on when he's in office. :-) Please. that would be a nice present for the Earth for him to get a few more votes in PA.

  •  Classic Blame the Victim Question ... (0+ / 0-)

    MB: If you could wave your magic green wand and change one thing the environmental movement has done - or not done - in the past four decades, what would that be?
    --

    Why not ask that of Dred Scott ?

    What a stupid, ignorant and insulting question.

    Listen, idiot. There are no magic wands. Law is made through Congress, State Legislatures and the courts. Why not ask Martin Luther King, Jr. the same question. He would punch you in the face.

  •  Another stupid question ... (0+ / 0-)

    MB: If, for three minutes, you had the undivided attention of the man or woman who takes the oath of office January 20, 2009, what single piece of advice would you give him or her regarding environmental matters?
    ---

    Law and policy is not made based on a one-time, three-minute meeting in the White House with the Presleydent.

    •  MB's question was about Hayes having (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BYw, geodemographics

      the ear of the new Pres, and using that ear to fill it with advice for 180 seconds. Not about getting any law passed. Just about advice on how to address an issue that concerns all of us, the auk, Katrina victims, whales, and citizens who need to pay more attention.

      If Hayes had a whole 9 minutes, according to Conservation international, http://www.conservation.org/...
      he could give three times the amount of advice perhaps, while one more species went extinct on the planet...

      Or in three minutes, Hayes could share with the new pres that there are a lot more people populating our planet....certainly way more than we can continue to support....Without getting too complicated, we could look at the number of births in the world for 2007 then convert that to a rate per minute.

      As of 2007, the average birth rate for the whole world is 20.3 per year per 1000 total population, which for a world population of 6.6 billion comes to 134 million babies per year. (source Wikipedia)...in 2007 there were 134 000 000 babies born/yr divided by 525 600 minutes/yr = 255 babies born/minute...

  •  Worse than Coal - Oil from Tar Sands (7+ / 0-)

    They have to heat the Tar Sands by burning natural gas in a carbon-intensive process to get the oil out.

    Alberta is now producing more oil with Tar Sands than Texas does. This is a huge enviromental disaster in the making.

    Tomorrow  watch this Frontline on Global Warming Hot Politics

    "I don't think I should disclose it unless there is some conflict of which I am aware of, and there is not," -Bill on Clinton Library Donors

    by Lefty Coaster on Mon Apr 21, 2008 at 11:53:17 PM PDT

  •  Celebrate Earth Day by downloading a free song&# (0+ / 0-)
  •  Thank you Meteor Blades! (3+ / 0-)

    A very happy Earth Day to you!

    Your writing is invaluable.

    There are rules, laws, and the rule of law. George W. Bush has disregarded all three.

    by geodemographics on Tue Apr 22, 2008 at 01:47:12 AM PDT

  •  bravo. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ed in Montana, dewley notid

    loved the interview.  keep it coming.

  •  Great Post, question about Obama... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ed in Montana

    Does anyone know if Obama is doing anything for Earth Day in Pa today?  I couldn't find any info regarding it on his web site.  I'm sure he's pressed for time today, but it'd be great if he does something for Earth Day...

  •  Thanks for this MB! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dewley notid, BYw, bfitzinAR

    A few comments.

    Richard Nixon was the last republican president who did anything about the environment. Although he wasn't green in his little shriveled soul, he was able to be persuaded to sign much of the landmark environmental legislation of the 20th century.

    You can't say enough about how misguided and horrible Ronnie Raygun was to the environment and this country. I would just add that he unleashed apocalyptic christianity on this country in the form of James Watt. Never before had a person that believed in the imminent end of the world been put in charge of planning the long term health of our public lands and spaces. As Watt said,why conserve when Jesus is coming soon?

    Why any god would approve of a species that greedily trashes and destroys their home is beyond any belief system I can comprehend.

    President Clinton did not do enough on the environmental front as he could have, but several things stand out. The presidential veto of Newt Gingrich's budget bill which included opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge stands out as one of the bravest actions any president has done for our public lands.

    Also, Clinton's support and signing of the 1994 California Desert Protection Act, one of the largest  wilderness and national park bills in history stands out, as well as his belated designation of a dozen national monuments throughout the west. Montana's Missouri Breaks National Monument isn't a national park, but I will take it!

    Who will stop this war of lies? Keith Olbermann May 23rd, 2007

    by Ed in Montana on Tue Apr 22, 2008 at 05:08:55 AM PDT

  •  I remember the first earth day.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ed in Montana

    all the activities...the meetings, the open houses at community centers, the programs and the talks. Those were wonderful times and yet it was a terrible time...
    I miss the zeitgeist but not the events.
    I have always wondered why the ball was dropped. Did we not think this would happen? It always surprises me that people think that there is no global warming/climate change yet the scientist and historians have been decrying humanities' mark on the planet even before the Industrial Revolution....Like Reagan, they probably think it is the fault of those terrible polluters, the trees!

    All I want is....Impeachment followed by Imprisonment!

    by Temmoku on Tue Apr 22, 2008 at 06:56:33 AM PDT

    •  Two things to remember when trying to (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ed in Montana

      create great change: 1) people are inherently afraid of change - as a general rule, they live by the "devil you know is better than the devil you don't know" rule & 2) 78% of any human society is more afraid of being made fun of or being taken for a sucker than of dying from not taking appropriate action - the R's since Reagan have focused most of their time and energy on ridiculing or villainizing anyone who tries to do anything environmentally sound.  Those are the reasons why we haven't progressed.  We didn't "drop" the ball, we were blindsided and they took it away from us.  Periodically we managed to get it back, but most of the time we're a pick-up neighborhood team up against the pros.  We need to get a prez & congress who will put some pros on our team, too.

  •  No mention of diet? Sad (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Far left coast

    It's pretty sad that in this diary nothing is mentioned about the human diet and its impact on the environment

    More that 1/3 of all fossil fuels produced in the United States go towards animal agriculture. According to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (1), the production of one calorie of animal protein requires more than ten times the fossil fuel input as a calorie of plant protein. This means that ten times the amount of carbon dioxide is emitted as well.

    Want to reduce your carbon footprint immediately? Stop eating animals.

    http://vegetarian.about.com/...

    When are environmentalists going to put their ethos where their mouth is?

    My password is: "transparency" This is a communal account. Everyone may play, few will win!

    by nanobubble on Tue Apr 22, 2008 at 06:58:15 AM PDT

    •  True that diet plays a part - more accurately (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Meteor Blades, Ed in Montana, DrFood

      American-style conspicuous consumption type diet plays a large part in GW.  Your quote says much when it says "More than 1/3 of all fossil fuels produced in the United States go towards animal agriculture" - the key being "in the United States".  American agribiz is incredibly unsustainable.  The subsidized row crops (corn, soy, wheat, rice) use something like 10 calories of energy to produce 1 calorie of food.  If you take that already unsustainable crop and feed it to feedlot animals, who then produce something like 3 times the methane that pastured animals do, you've got a real energy and environmental (and ethical) nightmare.

      But it isn't farming and ranching per se that's the problem, it's the way it's done.  Change the way we farm and you change all that.  Most of the meat I eat is pasture-raised.  Anybody out there who's a "pot hunter" rather than a "trophy hunter" is eating meat without negatively impacting the environment.  Meat is only an issue if it is raised inhumanely and unsustainably.

      •  Hubby and I seriously considering buying a meat. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bfitzinAR

        . . . bandsaw (!)

        This because we keep buying locally produced pastured animals (lambs, beef) and the butchering is lame.  We really don't want 50 pounds of ground beef, and where's the flank steak?!?

        DH is already good at butchering small lambs (we have a farmer who sells them to us preferentially because the butcher charges the same cut fee no matter what the size of the animal) so we're looking into a dedicated band saw so that we can process beef and pork ourselves.

        Sustainable agriculture is enhanced by small-scale meat production--animals can use plants and parts of plants not usable by humans, and create food as well as useful manure.  A vegetarian lifestyle is great, but all meat is not created equal.

        Universal Health Care - it's coming, but not soon enough!

        by DrFood on Tue Apr 22, 2008 at 11:05:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  reagan's legacy (0+ / 0-)

    the one aspect of reagan's legacy that seems to be rarely mentioned is, in my opionion, the most tragic.  I feel he is almost singlehandedly responsible for the current state of the AIDs pandemic.  As president, influenced by his conservative base, the religious right, he stood by as thousands of Americans died and did nothing.  As the CDC struggled to find and contain the emerging epidemic he refused funding.  He did not publicly refer to the epidemic until late in his second term after thousands more had died. Had we been able to be more proactive in the early stages of this emerging disease many lives would have been saved.
    It is a sad lesson we have not learned and ignoring the impact of our neglect of environment and environmental health issues are still having tragic consequences worldwide.

    ps. thanks MB.  plus, I find it amusing that you refer to hayes as a "maven".

    "Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of war." Maria Montessori

    by educonfidential on Tue Apr 22, 2008 at 10:36:25 AM PDT

    •  maven (0+ / 0-)

      check that thought. i'm have momentarily taken leave of my senses. yikes.

      "Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of war." Maria Montessori

      by educonfidential on Tue Apr 22, 2008 at 10:40:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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